Francis Marion increasing tuition, adding buildings

Francis Marion will renovate the campus entraceway signs as part of the school’s development projects.
Francis Marion will renovate the campus entraceway signs as part of the school’s development projects. Provided photo

Francis Marion University plans to renovate the former downtown Federal Post Office building to classroom space and construct an Honors Learning Center building, a new School of Education and Business building and a campus entry sign. The school also plans to raise tuition in the fall.

The plans were disclosed Thursday afternoon at the Francis Marion University Board of Trustees meeting.

Renovation of the 30,000-square-foot Federal Post Office building is the university’s priority. Renovation will tentatively begin next summer and will take one year to complete. The future classroom space, located beside the University’s Health Sciences Center, will be primarily used by the School of Health Science.

The Honors Learning Center building project is not completely funded, but the goal is to complete the facility by the fall of 2020. The building would house the Honors Program, International Program and McNair Center for Research and Service.

Dr. Fred Carter, Francis Marion University president, said the university will be prudent with capital as it expands.

“We’ll raise the money we need before we build,” Carter said. “We’ll make sure the necessary facilities are available when our students and faculty are ready for them.”

At the meeting, the board also approved a $57, 322, 251 budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The university will increase tuition by 3 percent this fall, which amounts to $149 more per semester.

Carter said this percentage for tuition increase is customary among universities, but Francis Marion is still one of the most affordable colleges in South Carolina.

The increase will help pay startup costs for the university’s new Speech Pathology program and cover rising employee health care and retirement benefits mandated by the state.

Francis Marion faculty and staff will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase in the fall, an increase Carter said is necessary to prevent erosion and inflation over time.